To date, my holiday season started out grumpy, veered slightly to overwhelmed, and took an abrupt turn to sad yet grateful, with a sharp reminder about things that are important. In the midst of all this, I managed to accomplish a lot of what I set out to do.
This year I was able to accomplish one of my favorite pastimes, holiday baking, by breaking it down into manageable chunks. For instance, one night I might mix up some dough and the next night I would bake the cookies. Or one night I might measure and blend my dry ingredients, and the next night mix it into a cake or bread. Manageable.
So here is what I came up with. Some recipes are tried and true, some are new but tested keepers. The sweet potato cookies were a dud, but I’m hoping that by next year I’ll find a better recipe.
So we start with ginger rum cake . I started this first, because the first step is soaking fresh ginger slices in rum for at least a week. Note to self: use a jar next year. It’s hard to dig ginger – which is to be used in the cake – back out of the bottle.
There was enough batter here to make one regular loaf and three mini loaves.
The icing calls for using the rum as well, but when I made my second round of these I created a lemon icing instead, as I thought springing a rum icing on certain people (oh, like my son’s teacher and bus driver) might be a little inappropriate. When I made those, I also included some lemon zest in the batter. For lemon icing: juice of one lemon and enough powdered sugar to make a runny paste. After it dries, it forms a delightful crust.
The finished product:
Uh oh…one of my mini loaves seems to have disappeared. Can’t find it anywhere!
Next, we have the pumpkin coconut loaves. These are actually vegan, so if you have any of those on your list…well, here ya go!
If you will look closely, you’ll see that these are on the burner of my stove. Once I wrap up my goodies, I place them on a low burner for a moment. Keep it waaaay down low; it should be low enough that you can just about tap it with your fingertips and not get burned. It is a great way to seal the plastic wrap really well.This recipe yields one regular loaf or four mini loaves, so if you want more, you have to double it.
Here are some shrimp and bacon deviled eggs that I brought for our office party. Last year, just before Christmas, I was standing at the seafood counter at Publix waiting my turn. The lady ahead of me was a bit put out because they were out of the size shrimp that she wanted. When the attendant asked her what she was making, her reply was, “Shrimp and bacon deviled eggs, if I can ever get out of here.” My first thought was, what a bitch. Followed by, that sounds delicious!
There are several recipes for these circulating, but the most appetizing one I found was on a blog entitled Shawn’s Plate. I hope Shawn doesn’t mind the linkage.
And finally, I managed to squeeze in some time for cookies.
My friend Valerie urged me to blog about my cherry snowballs when I mentioned them. I found this recipe in a cookie magazine in 1995. For some reason, that particular edition seemed to contain a multitude of gems. When my house burned down 11 years ago, I found my smokey magazine and salvaged the best pages from it.
The recipe calls for candied cherries, the type that are used in fruitcake, but for the first time, I was unable to find those. Determined, I bought a jar of maraschino cherries, drained and chopped them, and popped them in the oven at 300 for about an hour. Perfect. (If you would like this recipe and are unable to read the one here, let me know.)
And finally, we have chocolate crinkle cookies. Several years ago, Morning Edition featured a chemist who had written a cookbook of all the best cookie recipes, and included the scientific logic behind why certain ingredient combinations worked best. This was his representative recipe. I’ve been wanting to try it for several years and finally made the time. As a layperson, I must concur – these were absolutely delicious. (FYI, you don’t have to finely chop any chocolate. Just pop some chips in the microwave. Also, if you don’t have the special foil, parchment worked just fine for me. When you take these out of the oven, do lift the parchment or foil right off the pan and place it on the cooling rack. If you use a spatula, you demolish the cookies.)
My two-year-old rolled them in the powdered sugar. I’ve just noticed that most of my favorite cookie recipes call for some amount of powdered sugar. I just adore it…a dusting of powdered sugar makes baked goods so elegant.
This little assortment went to a good work friend, in a pottery bowl I got from an art festival earlier this year.
So there we have it…if you haven’t done your baking, there’s still time!